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Firefly Set to Launch Lockheed Martin Tech Demo In December

Firefly set to launch their next Alpha rocket in December, carrying Lockheed Martin Electronically Steerable Antenna Payload Tech Demo

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Nov 29 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Firefly is preparing for the next launch of their Alpha rocket. Scheduled for December, Firefly will launch Lockheed Martin's 300 pound Electronically Steerable Antenna Payload as part of a technology demonstration aimed at showcasing the capabilities of electronically steered antennas.

Lockheed Martin had previously announced a contract awarded to Firefly in June for the launch of a small satellite. Now the company has revealed that the upcoming launch will carry a spacecraft housing a cutting-edge electronically steerable antenna.

The antenna, with no moving parts, has been integrated into a Terran Orbital Nebula bus, enhancing its efficiency and adaptability for various applications in space.

The demand for electronically steered antennas is on the rise, particularly in broadband communications applications like in-flight satellite connectivity.

Unlike traditional antennas with mechanical components, electronically steered antennas leverage digital beam-forming technology, enabling them to generate multiple beams simultaneously. This technology allows satellites to dynamically adjust and steer communication beams, focusing bandwidth on high-traffic areas and significantly improving overall performance.

"This payload was specifically designed for mission speed in space applications. The goal is to launch this payload into orbit and prove that we can calibrate it and make it operational faster than previous sensors." - Paul Pelley, Senior Director of Global Security at Lockheed Martin Space

The innovative nature of this electronically steerable antenna extends beyond its operational speed. Lockheed Martin aims to showcase its high producibility, meaning that the satellite can be manufactured swiftly using commercially available technology. This characteristic not only emphasizes efficiency but also underscores the adaptability of the technology to meet the demands of the growing space industry.

As the launch date approaches, the industry will be closely watching this mission, anticipating the successful demonstration of Lockheed Martin's electronically steerable antenna technology.

If successful, this advancement could mark a pivotal moment in the evolution of satellite communication capabilities, opening new possibilities for faster and more efficient space missions in the future.